Storm Thorgerson, a British graphic designer who created album covers for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Muse, Genesis, Phish and many other major rock bands, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 69. “His ending was peaceful,” his family said in a statement. “He was surrounded by family and friends. He had been ill for some time with cancer though he had made a remarkable recovery from his stroke in 2003.”
“We first met in our early teens,” David Gilmour said in a statement. “We would gather at Sheep’s Green, a spot by the river in Cambridge and Storm would always be there holding forth, making the most noise, bursting with ideas and enthusiasm. Nothing has ever really changed. He has been a constant force in my life, both at work and in private, a shoulder to cry on and a great friend. The artworks that he created for Pink Floyd from 1968 to the present day have been an inseparable part of our work.”
Thorgerson grew up in Cambridge, England and initially dreamed of being a filmmaker, but around the age of 15 he decided to focus on art. He met Roger Waters, Syd Barrett and David Gilmour in grade school and they remained very tight friends, and Thorgerson was a constant presence during the early days of Pink Floyd.
He formed the graphic art group Hipgnosis in 1967 with his friend Aubrey Powell in 1967. Their first major work was the cover for Pink Floyd’s A Saucerful of Secrets the following year. It was a huge success and more work came his way, including Led Zeppelin’s Presence, Peter Gabriel’s first three solo albums and Black Sabbath’s Technical Ecstasy. In more recent yeares he created art for Muse, Phish, The Cranberries, Biffy Clyro, Anthrax and Megadeth.
Thorgerson spoke with Rolling Stone in 2011 about working with Pink Floyd. “I don’t have much to say about music,” he said. “Usually I like it, and I just absorb it. I don’t have much to say, and they ain’t let me say anything anyway. They say ,’For God’s sake, Storm, do not harm our song. Do not murder our tune.’ So I never say anything, really, about the music. I just let it go over, really, I suppose. It’s my job to reinterpret it, really.”
His famous Dark Side of the Moon prism and rainbow design is probably the most enduring image from his career. “It related mostly to a light show,” he told Rolling Stone. “The other thing was the triangle. I think the triangle, which is a symbol of thought and ambition, was very much a subject of Roger’s lyrics. So the triangle was a very a useful – as we know, obviously – was a very useful icon to deploy and making it into the prism – you know, the prism belonged to the Floyd.”
Despite all the changes that Pink Floyd went through over the years, they continued to work with Thorgerson until the very end of their career, even bringing him back to design the covers of their recent compilations, live albums and box set.
In another 2011 interview, Thorgerson estimated that he had designed over 300 albums. “I don’t really keep count,” he said. “I’m privileged to work with music, so I’m happy to work . . . As long as I can keep working, and paying the rent as they call it over in England, then I’m relatively happy.”